Remember that quirky little Nintendo Switch ad where Karen took her brand new games console to a Manhattan rooftop party to play while sipping on cosmopolitans and scoffing homemade kale chips? You can bet Karen took 1-2-Switch and, despite the abundance of alcohol present, Karen definitely finished the night with zero friends.
The main reason Nintendo released 1-2-Switch was to show off the functionality of their new console and the versatility of the joycons in particular, but there’s also an intentional desire for the humiliation of those playing it. Whether you’re shaking an imaginary soda bottle until it pops (no champagne, this is child-friendly Nintendo after all) or eating an imaginary hot dog, the sexual connotations are there loud and proud, much to the amusement of those playing, even more to those watching. There came a point last night where I was staring into the eyes of a colleague (Nintendo are massive fans of awkward staring) as we both meticulously caressed our Switch joycons, tugging at the air as if we were milking a cow and I thought to myself ‘so, this is a video game’.
You start 1-2-Switch with a choice of 7 of their more polished games and after playing a handful, the entire 28-mini game catalogue becomes available, warts and all. In addition, you’ll unlock Shuffle and Team Battle, the latter being the only one that will keep you playing for more than 30 minutes. The small pool of games becomes even smaller when playing Team Battle as mini games such as Soda, Fake Draw and Baby are left out and the inability to customise the playing board results in you playing the same ones whenever you start a new 30 minute game.
The various mini games are all centred around using the joycons in various different ways and it’s obvious the mechanics of each activity were designed before the lick of paint transformed it into the likes of Gorilla or Milk. However, not all games feel strenuously linked to their mechanics and the most fun I’ve had has been with the incredibly simple Quick Draw – simply listen out for the guy to shout ‘FIRE’ and shoot your opponent in the chest using the joycon trigger. It’s these shorter, simpler games like Quick Draw, Baseball and Samurai which find the perfect home in this collection, but they are too few and far between, drowning in a pool of lacklustre options that are unavoidable when playing the only party mode – Team Battle.
Had this game been bundled in with the console, it would have been lauded as a successful way to get friends and family members into playing the Switch, as Wii Sports did for the Wii. Unfortunately, for a $50 game the scrutiny bar is set a lot higher and after a couple of hours the game rapidly turns stale. If you’ve got a house party coming up and you’re able to borrow a copy or pick one up for less than $20, you won’t regret it, but there are only so many times you can strut down a catwalk, rock your Switch to sleep and beat your chest like a gorilla before the alcohol wears off and you realise how much of a pillock you look.